City of Norfolk, others investing total of $4 million in Elizabeth River Trail

NORFOLK, Va. -Norfolk’s Mayor, Kenneth Cooper Alexander, is hoping that an investment in the Elizabeth City Trail will not only do wonders for the trail, but also for the city.

“Experience has shown that trails similar to the Elizabeth River Trail enhance the value of our communities and attract visitors,” said Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander. “The City of Norfolk is pleased to be a major part of this initiative, and we will continue to work with the Foundation to ensure that these improvements benefit residents and visitors.”

Alexander and the city are also putting up money in hopes that the trail is worth the investment.

Norfolk will donate $500,000 of the $4 million, with charitable donations also being given by Sentara Healthcare ($500,000), TowneBank ($250,000) and PRA Group ($250,000), along with other major donors.

The 10.5 mile trail connects 28 Norfolk neighborhoods, hugs the Elizabeth River and focuses on green infrastructure and restoration to the outdoors area that it encompasses.

Walkers, runners and bikers in the Hampton Roads area have used the ERT to venture across Norfolk highlights and neighborhoods, including Harbor Park, Downtown Norfolk, Freemason, Sentara Loop, Fort Norfolk, Chelsea, West Ghent, Lambert’s Point, Old Dominion University, Larchmont and Lochhaven.

“The goal of the Elizabeth River Trail Foundation is to make ERT the most iconic urban riverfront trail in the country,” said Charles McPhillips, ERT Foundation chairman.

New improvements that are to be made include enhanced trail lighting, three fitness equipment stations, five kayak launches, multiple playgrounds and trail landscaping.

With the ERT being used by many, the planned enhancements have been conceived to match the Foundation’s vision for a trail full of young families with strollers or children on their first bicycles, walkers, avid runners and cyclists and all demographics in-between.

McPhillips is confident when he says that the pride of Norfolk’s communities can be along a, “recreational outlet for families from all walks of life.”

“A dramatically improved and beautified Elizabeth River Trail will be something for all of us to take great pride in.”

 Planned improvements and amenities of the ERT include:

*   Trail signage package with maps and distances (11 large /50+ medium)
*   Trail lighting
*   Trail surface improvements and increased path width
*   Trail landscaping
*   Trail Ambassador program
*   5 kayak launches / with kayak storage
*   2 large playgrounds
*   2 luminous paths
*   1 Interpretive environmental signage package (full length of trail) and audio tour
*   1 Interpretive historical signage package (full length of trail) and audio tour
*   3 fitness equipment stations
*   2 medium playgrounds
*   5 small playgrounds
*   8 bike maintenance stations
*   7 shade structure/charging stations
*   7 digital counters
*   20 bike racks
*   25 benches
*   20 trash and recycling stations
*   10 public art pieces
*   10 picnic tables
*   Website with maps, rides and event information
*   Social Media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for user engagement